Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets Sparkplug (Photo: Newsday.com)

Brandon Nimmo: Happy-Go-Lucky Character Is Put To The Test

Brandon Nimmo didn’t forget how to hit, did he? Not likely, but his early-season woes are putting a strain on his upbeat attitude…

Brandon Nimmo was drafted by the New York Mets in the 1st round (13th overall) of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft from East HS (Cheyenne, WY). A classic overachiever, Nimmo plodded his way through the Mets minor league system, touching base with every level possible before establishing himself as a regular in the Mets lineup, seven years later in 2018.

Brandon Nimmo, more than many of his peers, appreciates his status as one of 600 players occupying a spot on the active rosters of MLB’s thirty teams. He reminds of a former Mets player like Mookie Wilson, always with a (genuine) smile, a rah-rah spirit (but not overdone), and just plain happy to play a game he obviously loves.

Last year, Nimmo’s first as a full-time player, it all came so easy. He belonged, and he went about his business as someone who (quietly) knew he belonged. The numbers weren’t spectacular – they never were. But he produced a .404 on-base-percentage while moving into the lead-off position, and he hit a career-high (at any level) 17 home runs.

Brandon Nimmo is not paid to hit home runs or to strike out one out of every four times he comes to bat, as he did in 2018. In retrospect, both of these stats might have been a portent of Brandon Nimmo’s 2019 season to date.

In 26 at-bats over eight games, Nimmo has struck out an alarming 17 times. He has two hits to his credit, neither of them for extra bases. To put it simply, he looks lost. To the point in Saturday’s game when his manager, Mickey Callaway, gracefully pinch-hit for Nimmo, saving the 26-year-old from a possible Golden Sombrero (four K’s in the same game).

Predictably, Callaway did not write Nimmo’s name in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game, although he did appear in the game on a double-switch, getting one at-bat, flying out to center field. Nimmo stayed in the game and delivered a double, raising hopes the drought may be over.

Brandon Nimmo And The Anatomy Of A Slump

Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets Sparkplug
Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets Sparkplug (Photo credit: Risingapple.com)

There’s a place in the Baseball Hall Of Fame for the person or coach who can come up with a one-size-fits-all formula to end slumps whenever they occur. Chris Davis has no hits in his last 43 at-bats, and he has no place in the Baltimore Orioles lineup, except for the fact they owe him a gazillion dollars. No one cares though, because Chris Davis became a caricature of himself the day after he signed that big contract.

Not so with Brandon Nimmo, who is more than worth saving with patience granted for effort and character. What is worrisome in Nimmo’s case, though, is he doesn’t believe he can or should fail, even though he plays a game where the hitters who make it Cooperstown fail seven out of ten times they come to the plate.

See if you hear the same thing I do in comments Brandon Nimmo recently made to the New York Post:

“I don’t want to overdo it, because it is just seven games in and I do have a lot of confidence that this is going to turn around, but obviously I look at the next game and I’m like, this is the game I want it to turn around,” Nimmo said. “I don’t want to wait for two weeks or whatever and be like, ‘Ah, it’s just a thing.’ The competitor in me wants it to happen now. I’m going to work as hard as I can for that right now.”Greg Joyce, New York Post

Don’t you feel a sense of urgency in Nimmo’s words, to the point where he’s putting too much pressure on himself, and he’s going “to work as hard as I can”…

Brandon Nimmo has been working as hard as he can since the first day he ever picked up a bat. He can’t work any harder, but trying to do more (now) can easily turn into less.

Brandon Nimmo – Leave The Driving To Callaway

Mickey Callaway, Manager, New York Mets
Mickey Callaway, Manager, New York Mets (Photo: Sporting News
Mickey-Callaway-053018-Getty-FTR.jpg)

Easy to say, right? What do I know? I would, however, suggest a couple of things the Mets should try. First, Callaway should advise Nimmo he’s got the next two days off. Monday’s an off-day and he’ll be sitting when the Mets host the Twins on Tuesday.

Next, Callaway should approach the Mets “players come first” General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, for some cash so Nimmo can fly his wife, Chelsea in (if she isn’t already in New York) so they can plan a day and a half together with a carriage ride through Central Park, some dinner, whatever, but with no thoughts about baseball before Nimmo is re-inserted in the lineup (not lead-off) on Wednesday.

Second, the Mets should schedule Brandon Nimmo for an exhaustive eye exam. Don’t laugh, these kids think they’re invincible, and it might be something as simple as optics, so important is “seeing” the spin on pitches before it’s too late. Hey, it can’t hurt.

In lieu of those “suggestions”, I have none and it’s likely other than providing encouragement, no one on the Mets will either. Slumps are slumps, and they remain as much of an enigma as anything in the game of baseball.

The good news, especially for Brandon Nimmo, is his team is winning. Taking the blame for losing on top of a slump would be the ultimate curse thrust on a player. Nevertheless, Nimmo fills a much-needed void in the Mets lineup as a player who will get on base and give competitive at-bats every time he steps to the plate.

Brandon Nimmo has shown too much to lose this much overnight. As he’s done over his eight years of playing pro ball, Nimmo will figure this out…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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